Half term, it’s something I spend a lot of time wishing for. On those weekdays when I’m trying to get little people fed, washed and dressed and out of the house by 8.30. It’s a week of reprieve from evenings spent packing lunch boxes and mornings consisting of me searching through piles of washing and pulling everything out of the tumble dryer on to the floor in search of a school sweatshirt or a pair of grey trousers. Half term is a break from spelling test practice, arguments over homework, the weekly search for the missing book bag and there is no pressure to be anywhere at a certain time. Term time is so hectic and busy so when half term arrives the kids and I are so excited ready for the break, we welcome the rest from routine with open arms. Sometimes, the joy of half term arriving can be short lived though. Sometimes after only a few days I find myself longing for those manic mornings as I miss the peace that’s comes with having two out of three children in school. Sometimes, and I really wish it was actually never, half term feels like survival.
When half term feels like survival
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that doing the school run 5 times a week (10 in my case as Alex is only half days so I have to go an extra time to pick him up) is not fun. There is a list of loads of tasks to do each morning to get everyone ready on time. I mean, no one should be expected to do anything apart from make coffee and shove some toast in their face before 8am, yet on a school day there is SO MUCH to do. It’s no surprise so many of us parents are dancing out of the school gates on the last days of term, tossing a book bags and lunch boxes into a corner of the kitchen, happy to ignore them for the next week. Many of us make plans for the weeks holiday, we want our children to have the rest they deserve after a busy time at school but also want to make sure we pack those precious school free days with lots of fun too. That’s what I do anyway. Sometimes though, even when the plans have been set, the fun is waiting to be had and the rest is eagerly anticipated, the holidays end up turning into a bit of a parenting endurance test. The days end up feeling like you are stud in survival mode and you can end up wondering why you were so excited for this week in the first place.
This past week the boys have been on half term and, at times, it really has felt like I’ve been just dragging myself through the days. We’ve gone out A LOT. I’m glad we’ve ventured out every day, I really struggle staying in all day with the kids, the boys end up fighting and the baby gets restless. Going out is fun, we make lovely memories and enjoy ourselves but a day out consisting of just me and the kids can also come with a load of stress. There have been points during the past week where the boys have been playing up, not listening and running off and I’ve found myself just wanting to go home and put them to bed so I can collapse on the he sofa and have a cry (and maybe a gin..and definitely a nap!).
Being responsible for every single activity they do, every meal they want (or don’t which is more accurate with my boys) and every question they have is really tiring. When they are in school they have little friends to play with, teachers to keep them interested, lunch time away from me so I don’t have to spend an hour trying to convince my 6 year old his sandwich isn’t in fact poisonous and that he likes hams sandwiches dammit. Having to listen to the constant commentary about the Mario Bros or being asked to have my phone to play on or hearing ‘can I have another snack?’ or ‘what shall I do mummy?’ every day for just over a week is pretty draining. For the judgemental types, I know some of you are out there, I LOVE my kids and I LOVE spending time with them, I even enjoy a good old chat about Mario and Luigi while making snacks and coming up with activities for them to do, all I’m saying is after a week of it non stop it all starts to feel a teeny tiny bit like a form of torture.
Some parents work and I know they’d do anything to be at home with their kids during half term, please don’t think I don’t realise how lucky I am because I do. But being home constantly is hard, just like going out to work is, and even during school holidays the change in our days is welcome but really tiring sometimes too. The exhaustion doesn’t always end when the kids are tucked up in bed, sometimes when it gets to the end of the day and you finally get to relax, all you can think about is whether the kids have had a nice day and did you do enough with them and you hope more than anything you’ve made some lovely memories with them. You sit in a pile of tiredness on the sofa and hope that your children have gone to bed happy and content after a day spent having fun with you. That’s what half term is for after all, isn’t it? Relaxing, having fun, letting your children enjoy being free from the routines and constraints put on them every day when they are in school.
This February half term has been hard. Oli has worked a lot and been away a bit, Tilly has needed me constantly and the boys have been particularly challenging at times. There has been no trips to the grandparents or to stay with family and some days I really have woken up and just wanted to hide under the duvet. On those days though I’ve still got up, got the kids out and we’ve had fun amongst the chaos and stresses. Some of the time though all I’ve been thinking is ‘roll on 7pm, I can’t cope with another question, another request for food/drink/attention/everything I have’. Some days I’ve just been ticking boxes in my head until bedtime and not enjoyed the moment as much as I probably should have (fed – check, been outside – check, spent time together – check). I think it’s ok to admit that though, I’m sure I’m not the only parent who goes into survival mode during the holidays and doesn’t always enjoy every moment the kids aren’t in school. In fact, in this world where everyone looks like they are having the best half term ever on social media, I think it’s essential for the mental wellbeing of others to speak up and share that, actually, sometimes you don’t love spending every single second of your day with the kids. I really do think it’s ok to admit that because it doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy their company, all you are saying is when you are used to a bit of child free time when they are in school, the holidays can feel a bit challenging.
Tomorrow the boys are back in school and I think we are all ready to get back to the routine. We’ve had fun this half term, it’s been hard but I know the boys have had a nice time and enjoyed themselves. Yes, some days I’ve been on survival mode but others I’ve really enjoyed spending time with the kids and having all of my brood at home with me. We can never expect for a full week of everyone having the.best.time.ever and if we did it’s just a disappointment waiting to happen really, isn’t it? With all things parenting, it’s always best to manage expectations and be realistic!
If you’ve had a bit of an up and down week too, remember you are not the only one..and ignore all the perfects days out photos other parents are sharing on Insta, no one is going to post a photo of their child screaming at 5am or mid fight with their sibling or in the height of a meltdown, are they?
How do you feel about the school holidays? Do you love every minute or do you find them a struggle? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.